The Tradition Minute Repeater Tourbillon from Breguet — one of the brand’s most important launches at Baselworld 2016 — has a passel of features that make it different and, Breguet says, better, than other minute repeaters. Here’s a look at them.
The company has been granted six new patents for the movement. Among its unusual features are the shape and placement of the gongs. Instead of wrapping around the movement, they are placed above it. The longer, hour gong is shaped like a semicircle; the minutes gong is a kind of round-cornered triangle. Both gongs have rectangular, rather than round, profiles. The hammers hit them vertically, not horizontally, as in other minute repeaters. Breguet says it discovered by experimentation that all these unorthodox elements contribute to better sound quality. The vertical striking of the hammers, for instance, causes the watch bezel and crystal, the two chief components that radiate sound, to vibrate vertically. This makes for improved transmission of sound from the watch into the air.
Breguet also incorporated its own type of repeater regulator (the device that ensures that the tones of the chiming sequence sound at precisely the correct intervals). It is a magnetic regulator, which Breguet developed for its La Musicale watch of 2013. The regulator’s speed of rotation is governed by changes in the strength of the braking forces acting upon metallic arms. A magnetic regulator is much more precise than a standard one, Breguet claims. It has the added advantage of being silent, rather than emitting the whirring sound heard in many repeaters. The regulator is visible from the dial side.
The repeater is activated not with a slide, as on most repeaters, but by means of a button. The button is easier to use and makes the case more moisture resistant, Breguet says.
The manner in which energy is delivered from the repeater barrel to the gongs is also different from that of most repeaters. Power is transmitted via a chain according to a principle like that of a chain-and-fusée mechanism. The chain delivers a steady level of power over the entire chiming sequence, so the repeater does not lose energy and slow down at the end of the sequence.
Another unusual feature is the tones used to sound the quarter-hours. In most repeaters, each quarter is sounded “ding dong.” If more than one quarter is sounded, the hearer can become confused about which quarter is being chimed. But in this repeater, the second quarter is sounded “dong ding” to make it easy to distinguish it from the other quarters.
The tourbillon is an extra-flat one like the tourbillon Breguet introduced in 2014. The movement is self-winding by means of a peripheral rotor. The case is 44 mm in diameter and available in rose or white gold. Each version is $460,700.